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Women to Inspire You: Breaking down barriers and doing what they love

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 In celebration of International Women’s Day!

There’s nothing more inspiring than someone following their passion – especially when they have had to overcome societal norms, adversity and discrimination to do so. That’s why this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating eight PADI Women who stand out and inspire us daily.  They have overcome many obstacles to turn their passion into a life mission to save the ocean – the planet’s largest and most important ecosystem that desperately needs their help. What’s more, through their bold choices and by living through example, they are encouraging others to do the same.

1. Using Science to Save Sharks: Gador Muntaner

Image credit: Rafael Fernandez

Originally from Spain, Gádor put on a mask, fins, and snorkel for the first time in Mallorca Island when she was 3 years old. When she turned 16, she got her open water diver certification and that’s when she knew that she would dedicate her life to the ocean. At 22 she achieved her PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification in order to be able to share with everybody what she loves the most: the feeling of diving.

In 2016 she moved to La Paz, Mexico to turn her passion into her work: the study and conservation of sharks. She did her undergraduate thesis studying sharks, as she had always dreamed, becoming a student of Pelagios Kakunjá Marine Conservation. Her research project focused on the movement patterns of the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree studying contamination in Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) tissues in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. This love for sharks has led Gádor to travel the world–most recently running a scientific study in Spain on the positive impact sustainable shark tourism can have on the ocean.

Follow her mission to save sharks on Instagram: @gadormunta

2. Building a New Generation of Ocean Guardians: Zandile Ndhlovu

Image credit: Jacki Bruniquei

Zandile Ndhlovu is the first Black African Freediving Instructor in South Africa and the founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to improve diversity in marine conservation and sports. Zandile’s inspiring work centres around creating the magical first encounter that exposes youth – most of whom would never have the opportunity –  to experience the ocean. As an ocean conservationist, diversity and inclusion specialist, and avid speaker and storyteller, she uses these skills to advocate for a blue planet in which the ocean is accessible – and protected – by all, regardless of race, gender and religion.

Zandile is a change agent, passionate about human potential being the critical currency that creates the worlds we want to live in while focusing on the collective ability to bring change. She’s leading that change one young person at a time in South Africa – and around the world.

Follow her journey to creating more diversity in the ocean on Instagram: @zandithemermaid

3 + 4. Giving the Ocean a Voice: Mermaid Elle and Brandee Anthony

Image credit: Brandee Anthony

Brandee Anthony is a professional mermaid, photographer and PADI Mermaid instructor based out of Vero Beach, Florida. She started her dive company, Mermaid Freedive, in 2019 and offers guests the opportunity to become PADI Freedive and Mermaid certified in an all-inclusive retreat format. Brandee has over 1.7 million online followers where she shares her love for the water and creating content that brings happiness to her viewers through photography and videography.

Follow her mission to help others connect with themselves and the water on Instagram: @brandee_anthony

Image credit: @themermaidelle

Mermaid Elle is the most popular mermaid on TikTok and makes a full-time living splashing her tail as a PADI Mermaid Instructor. She takes great pride in growing teaching more mermaids, saying “becoming a mermaid is really just being yourself in your most powerful form. We call ourselves mer-sisters and mer-brothers because mermaids are one species, one family, one school of fish!” She’s already underway training up other mermaids as an official PADI Mermaid Instructor and is making a full-time living as a professional mermaid.

Elle believes that it is the mer-persons role to speak for an ocean – and its creatures – that can’t speak for itself. She’s a real-life Ariel using her skills to drive more focus upon marine conservation.

Follow her mission to inspire others to live their best mermaid life on TikTok: @themermaidelle

5. Creating More Youth Conservationists: Julia Aveline Rabenjoro

Julia is one of the youngest, and most “decorated” PADI diver with several certifications under her dive belt. Julia started her diving journey with PADI on her 8th birthday in Sabah, Borneo. Julia went on to obtain her Junior Open Water when she was 10 and her Junior Advanced when she was 12. Julia is now 14 and has just taken her Junior Rescue Diver course. Julia also started freediving at the end of last year and she is now a certified PADI Basic Freediver. Diving has helped Julia to find her passion in conserving the ocean, which caused her to create the Seed of Hope Facebook page to raise awareness and funds for ocean causes, while inspiring other young ocean advocates to do the same.

Follow her mission to plant seeds of hope in communities on Facebook: @JuliaIntoTheBlue

6. Making The Ocean Accessible to All: Cody Unser

Image credit: Cody Unser

Cody Unser, a daughter of Indy 500 racing greats, founded The Cody Unser First Step Foundation at the age of 13 to raise awareness, medical collaboration and quality of life for Transverse Myelitis, the autoimmune condition that left her suddenly paralyzed as a teen  in 1999. Her foundation’s focus on mainstreaming adaptive scuba for over a decade and its potential as a therapeutic tool in exercise science is creating a buzz in the medical and dive industries. Regardless of the injury or condition, Cody advocates for others to become adaptive divers as well. Through her foundation, she established Cody’s Great Scuba Adventure, which uses scuba diving as a therapeutic and psychological tool for people living with different forms of paralysis. Her  documentary, “Sea of Change,” explored the neurological and psychological effects of scuba on a group of chosen paralyzed veterans.

She has become a leading advocate for people living with disabilities and spends much of her time traveling across the country to deliver keynote speeches, attend medical symposia and help other grassroots organisations that have similar missions.

Learn more about how Cody is breaking down barriers on PADI’s Podcast: Dive Stories.

7 + 8. Showing the World How Amazing the Ocean is: Elise Gibbins and Mia Stawinski

Image credit: Elise Gibbins

Mia and Elise are award winning underwater and topside filmmakers and photographers. Elise is a PADI Divemaster who harnesses her cinematography skills to drive awareness and has collaborated with NGO’s and commercial enterprises who are motivated to drive positive environmental change. Elise produces world class content campaigns that connect audiences to nature’s significance and humanity’s relationship with it, with a passion for highlighting endangered ecosystems.

Image credit: Mia Stawinski

They have teamed up to combine their passion and love for the underwater world with their background in underwater cinematography and photography.  Their goal is to highlight the beauty of the world’s magnificent marine life and landscapes while encouraging divers of all genders to explore and protect the ocean.

Follow their award winning content on Instagram: @wandervicariously and @elisegibbins

PADI  is the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, operating in 186 countries and territories, with a global network of more than 6,600 dive centres and resorts and over 128,000 professional members worldwide. PADI embodies a global commitment to ocean health and enables people around the world to seek adventure and save the ocean through underwater education, life-changing experiences and travel. Find out more at www.PADI.com

Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast Episode 180: Dawn Kernagis

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Dawn Kernagis

Gemma and Ian chat to Dawn Kernagis.  Dawn joined DEEP in 2023 as the Director of Scientific Research.   DEEP is an ocean technology and exploration company with a mission to ‘Make Humans Aquatic.’ DEEP’s undersea habitat and submersible systems, combined with multi-phased diver and human performance training, will create the next evolution of subsea science, research, and exploration capabilities.   Dawn is a NASA-trained NEEMO Aquanaut, Explorer’s Club Fellow and Women Divers Hall of Fame Inductee and who is also tasked to establish DEEP’s first US presence in North Carolina.   Dawn has also been a diver with numerous underwater exploration, research, and conservation projects since 1993, including the mapping and record-setting exploration of some of the deepest underwater caves in the world.

https://www.deep.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-kernagis-995383152/

The BiG Scuba Podcast is brought to you by Narked at 90.   “Beyond Technical”   Narked at 90    If you are thinking of moving across to tech diving or completely new to diving, Narked at 90 can advise and guide on the best equipment and set up for your personal or commercial requirements  https://www.narkedat90.com/.  There is currently a code for you to use for purchases and the code is  BIGSCUBA2024.

If you are interested in the INSTA360 action camera we discussed then please click this link:   https://www.insta360.com/sal/x3?utm_term=INRAI8S

We hope you have enjoyed this episode of The BiG Scuba Podcast.  Please give us ★★★★★, leave a review, and tell your friends.   Contact Gemma and Ian with your messages, ideas and feedback via The BiG Scuba Bat Phone    +44 7810 005924   or use our social media platforms.   To keep up to date with the latest news, follow us:

We are on Instagram                     @thebigscuba

We are on Facebook                      @thebigscuba

We are in LinkedIn                          https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian%F0%9F%A6%88-last-325b101b7/

The BiG Scuba Website                  www.thebigscuba.com

Amazon Store :                                https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/thebigscuba

Visit   https://www.patreon.com/thebigscubapodcast and subscribe – Super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.

🎧You can listen to the BiG Scuba Podcast on all major podcast platforms including …. iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify and Stitcher 😀.  ISSN Number 2752-6127

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Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast Episode 173: DEEP – Making Humans Aquatic

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Gemma and Ian visited DEEP and were hosted by Phil Short, Research Diving, Training Lead, and were given a tour of the facility at Avonmouth and then over to the Campus at Tidenham.

DEEP is evolving how humans access, explore and inhabit underwater environments. Through flexible, modular and mobile subsea habitats that allow humans to live undersea up to 200m for up to 28 days, work-class submarines, and advanced human performance research, DEEP completely transforms what we are capable of underwater and how we conduct undersea science and research.

www.deep.com

You can listen to Episode 173 of the BiG Scuba Podcast here.

We hope you have enjoyed this episode of The BiG Scuba Podcast.  Please give us ★★★★★, leave a review, and tell your friends about us as each share and like makes a difference.   Contact Gemma and Ian with your messages, ideas and feedback via The BiG Scuba Bat Phone    +44 7810 005924   or use our social media platforms.   To keep up to date with the latest news, follow us:

We are on Instagram                     @thebigscuba

We are on Facebook                      @thebigscuba

We are in LinkedIn                          https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian%F0%9F%A6%88-last-325b101b7/

The BiG Scuba Website                  www.thebigscuba.com

Amazon Store :                                https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/thebigscuba

Visit   https://www.patreon.com/thebigscubapodcast and subscribe – Super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.

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